Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spying on workers a hot button issue

California Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled in August that employers have fairly wide latitude to spy on their employees. Writing for the court, Justice Marvin R. Baxter said the decision is not intended to encourage employers' secret surveillance of their workers. But the practice is permissible.

The decision demonstrates the evolving nature of "workplace spying." It gives employers confidence in their ability to monitor employee behavior, while warning workers their privacy rights are limited. Used properly, employee monitoring is a helpful tool for assuring customer service, as well as eliminating improper employee use of employer-paid time, computers, vehicles, etc.

Employers must exercise caution. This generally includes informing employees that monitoring is taking place. But as in the case recently decided by the California Supreme Court, circumstances may waive the need to give notice.


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